Saturday 9 August // Vanarama National League South // Attendance: 1,307 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
In the inaugural 3G derby dubbed “El Plastico”, Maidstone United emerged on top as a stunning goal from Joe Healy and a late header from Alex Akrofi saw the Stones get their new life in the National League South off to the dream start.
The new pitch was perfect and the home side looked to take advantage by keeping the ball on the floor at every opportunity. As a result the Stones had to weather a difficult opening during which time Sutton had seven corners in the first 17 minutes.
Lee Worgan was called into serious action with just seven minutes gone when Maidstone were unable to clear the ball and it came to Ross Stearn. Stearn was hovering just outside the area and he hit a curling effort which was heading into the top right hand corner until Worgan intervened with a flying save.
It wasn’t long until the Stones had a half chance of their own though. Maidstone broke quickly through Callum Driver and his clever ball put Matt Bodkin in down the left but Bodkin’s was unable to pick out any Stones player and the opportunity was lost.
Then with 16 minutes gone, Kevin Amankwaah found Dan Fitchett with a lovely ball. Fitchett quickly made room for a shot which cannoned off the inside of the post and rebounded to Craig Dundas who saw his effort from a narrow angle cleared away from the line by Worgan.
Having survived an early onslaught from the U’s, the Stones grew in confidence as the half progressed. Driver picked out Frannie Collin at the near post with a low ball but Collin was unable to hit the target and then on 38 minutes, Collin nearly made Ross Worner pay for dithering in possession. The Maidstone striker managed to get the ball off the Sutton keeper but he was forced wide and his pull back didn’t find any fellow Stones players.
The start of the second half was slightly quieter but the game was ignited on 61 minutes when the Stones took the lead in spectacular fashion. Healy won a header in midfield and he exchanged a one two with Collin who nodded the ball on for Healy to latch onto and send a superb lob over Worner from 25 yards out.
Unsurprisingly, Sutton then dominated possession for long spells but the Stones could have added a second when Bobby Joe-Taylor put substitute Alex Akrofi in down the left. Bodkin was waiting in the middle but Akrofi elected to shoot and he dragged the ball wide of the left hand post.
With the game heading towards it conclusion, Glen Southam’s corner was met by Craig McAllister only for Worgan to smother his header. Then substitute Stuart Fleetwood got past Driver but his cross was parried away from goal by Worgan.
This was to be the last time that Sutton threatened an equaliser though and the Stones made sure of the win with 88 minutes gone. A corner from the right came out to Healy who passed to Jay May and his cross was flicked into the net by the leaping Akrofi.
Sutton United: –
Maidstone United: Joe Healy 61, Alex Akrofi 88.
Sutton United: Ross Worner, Kevin Amankwaah (Stuart Fleetwood 66), Dan Spence, Simon Downer, Shaun Cooper, Dean Beckwith, Craig McAllister, Glen Southam, Craig Dundas (Dan Wishart 58), Dan Fitchett, Ross Stearn (Tom Bolarinwa 58). Subs not used:, Wayne Shaw, Emil Salama.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Callum Driver, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Manny Parry, Joe Healy, Matt Bodkin, Alex Brown (James Rogers 80), Jay May, Frannie Collin (Alex Akrofi 69), Bobby-Joe Taylor (Mitchell Pinnock 80). Subs not used: Jamie Coyle, Jack Paxman.
Man of the Match poll
Who was your man of the match against Sutton United?
- Lee Worgan (33%, 100 Votes)
- Joe Healy (21%, 66 Votes)
- Callum Driver (9%, 27 Votes)
- Steve Watt (9%, 27 Votes)
- Manny Parry (6%, 18 Votes)
- Alex Akrofi (5%, 16 Votes)
- Alex Brown (5%, 14 Votes)
- Bobby-Joe Taylor (4%, 12 Votes)
- Matt Bodkin (2%, 7 Votes)
- Tom Mills (2%, 6 Votes)
- Jay May (2%, 5 Votes)
- Frannie Collin (2%, 5 Votes)
- Mitchell Pinnock (1%, 3 Votes)
- James Rogers (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 307